You need to harvest poppy seeds as soon as the pods split, or the wind will take them away.
Thus, you will have to recognize when the pods are ready so that you can collect the seeds before the plant scatters them.
If you are trying to harvest some seeds from your poppy plants so that you can save them for the following year, you aren’t alone.
Many people want to save their poppy seeds to reduce growing costs.
Therefore, let’s look at the best way to collect and store these seeds to ensure they will have the best shot of growing during the next season.
How Do You Harvest Poppy Seeds?
Harvesting poppy seeds can be challenging because these seeds are so tiny.
Also, you can easily lose poppy seeds if the pod splits when you aren’t expecting it.
But why do poppies scatter their seeds?
Well, poppy seeds are naturally distributed by the plant when the pod splits open.
So, the seeds spill out, get caught by the wind, and fly all over the place.
This process is the plant’s way of ensuring that its young spread around and will have a chance of growing into new plants next year.
But your seeds blowing away obviously isn’t helpful if you want to store them yourself.
Yet, luckily, you have a couple of options.
Either you can monitor the plants, or you can remove the seeds pods and bring them inside for storage before they split.
If you would rather keep an eye on the pods, you’ll need to recognize how their appearance will change before splitting.
The pods will usually dry out, and their flesh will take on a tight appearance as the seeds inside swell.
When you think the pods are almost ready to burst, tie a bag over them so that you can capture the seeds inside rather than allowing them to scatter freely.
For this method, you can use a paper bag or an old nylon sock.
You can also employ other items, but they need to be breathable so that the poppy head won’t rot.
Or, alternatively, you could wait until the seed heads form and cut them off the plant, and bring them inside.
You can then place the pods on a rack with a tray underneath, and the seeds should spill into the tray as the pod dries out and splits.
This second option is easier, but there is a risk of the seeds being immature when you cut the pod, and immature seeds are unlikely to germinate.
You should therefore be cautious and use the other method if you can.
But, if you can’t, leave the pods on the plant for as long as possible to maximize the chances of the seeds being mature.
Read Also >> Why Save Seeds?
How Do You Prepare Poppy Seeds for Storage?
To prepare poppy seeds for storage, shake your seeds onto a tray lined with paper towels.
Next, leave them open to the air in a warm place for a couple of weeks.
However, don’t put them in the sun, as excessive light could kill the seeds before you even get to store them.
After leaving them out for awhile, occasionally disturb the seeds by moving them around on the tray so that the air can access different areas.
Periodically moving your seeds will minimize the risk of moisture pockets remaining.
Finally, when you think the seeds are completely dry, it’s time to store them.
Read Also >> How to Harvest and Save Marigold Seeds
How Do You Store Poppy Seeds?
You can store poppy seeds in labeled paper envelopes or pour them into containers for storage.
You may also wish to put some silica gel or paper packets with rice into the container too.
These items will help to absorb any excess moisture and should help to keep the seeds dry.
And having dry seeds reduces the risk of them going moldy, which will kill them.
Damp seeds may also try to germinate too early, and if they do, they won’t make it to the next growing season.
But, moisture isn’t the only thing that could ruin yoru seeds.
You also need to protect your seeds from direct light, which will gradually damage them.
So put them in an opaque container or store them in a dark cupboard.
Lastly, make sure you keep your seeds cool at all times.
Seeds that become too hot will often get damaged and will not germinate the following spring.
Thus, you should not keep your seeds next to a heater, near a fire, or in another warm location.
Overall, a basement, cool cupboard, or pantry will work well for storing poppy seeds.
How Long Will Poppy Seeds Last?
In general, it’s best to plant poppy seeds the year after you have harvested them.
If you store poppy seeds for longer, they may still germinate when you plant them, but the chances of growing a living flower will decrease over time.
So, try to use them up and then harvest your new plants for seeds at the end of the next season.
Storing poppy seeds is easy, but you need to be vigilant if you are going to harvest them.
Thus, make sure you pay close attention to the appearance of the seed pods.
Then, once the seeds have dried, put them somewhere dark, cool, and dry, so they can be ready for the next planting season.
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